It was on this date 92 years ago that Martin Luther King Jr. was born. His birthday is observed as a national holiday on the third Monday in January, the only federally designated National Day of Service.
Atlanta takes special pride in Dr. King as a native son. Nicole A. Moore, director of education at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, spoke with “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom about Dr. King’s life and some significant local landmarks people can visit around the city.
About MLK’s early life:
“Dr. King was born here in Atlanta in 1929. He was raised here, living with his mother, his father, his sister, and his brother. Their house is still standing; it’s apart of the National Park. He went to Booker T. Washington High School here in Atlanta, and then he matriculated to go to Morehouse College at the age of 15. His formative years are really spent in the heart of Atlanta,” said Moore.
How Morehouse College impacted Dr. King:
“He had had incidents around race with growing up with his father, but it was when he left home and went to Morehouse that they’re having these really hard and intellectual conversations about race. That’s where his thoughts around race and social justice really start to matriculate. That’s where he’s able to be exposed to folks like Henry David Thoreau on “Civil Disobedience.” He’s mentored by people like Dr. Benjamin Mays. That’s where he’s able to grasp the concept of what it means to be Black in America.”
The role that the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church had on Dr. King’s life:
“It was his grandfather’s church. He grew up in this church. His father becomes co-pastor, and then eventually, he becomes co-pastor. It really is the foundation of how he engaged the community. It’s the foundation of what he found to be important. It’s also that grounding of his faith. I see Ebenezer as a place for understanding how religion shapes the Black experience and what grounds many of us in the continued fight,” said Moore.
Moore’s recommendations for a safe, self-guided tour in honor of MLK:
“I would start at the home site because that’s where it all begins. I would see the neighborhood he grew up in. The shotgun houses are pretty preserved. I would recommend walking down Auburn Avenue and just imagine it before the highway was there. This was his community, this is where you had residential Black life in downtown Atlanta, but then you cross over into the business realm of Black Atlanta. You see places like the Atlanta Life Building, the repository; you see the Atlanta Daily World. For us today, it just looks like some old buildings, but it really encapsulates the Black experience in so many cities.”
A map for a self-guided tour can be found here. The National Center for Civil and Human Rights offers the Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. Collection, which is currently on display. On Jan. 22, they will be holding a virtual event called “We Share The Dream: King’s Beloved Community.” A panel of experts will examine Dr. King’s community and talk about the shared responsibility of informing others about modern social justice movements.
From the Center For Civil And Human Rights, Other MLK Day events:
Friday, January 15 – MLK weekend activities kick off with hourly performances of “MLK Day” and “Beautiful Things” by recording artist J. Lungz on Jan. 15 from noon to 3 p.m.
Monday, January 18 (MLK Day) – The Center will host an MLK themed scavenger hunt in partnership with the Children’s Museum of Atlanta, centered on the Rolls Down Like Water civil rights gallery. Ideal for families and children (pre-K – age 10 and over), the ninety-minute scavenger hunt is available 10 a.m. – 5 p.m